With tinnitus, it’s typical to have good and bad days but why? Over 45 million Americans suffer from ringing in their ears due to a condition called tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and 90 percent of them also have some amount of hearing loss.
But what’s difficult to understand is why it’s nearly non-existent on some days and on others the ringing is so invasive. It’s not entirely clear why this happens, but some common triggers may clarify it.
What Is Tinnitus?
The following phantom noises are heard by people who suffer from tinnitus:
You hear it, the guy sitting next to you can’t, which is part of what makes tinnitus so disturbing. Also, the pitch and volume can vary. One day it may be a roar and the next day be gone completely.
Exactly What Causes Tinnitus?
The most prevalent cause is a change in a person’s hearing. These changes may be due to:
- Earwax build up
- Ear bone changes
- Noise trauma
There are other potential causes, as well, like:
- High blood pressure
- Acoustic neuroma
- Meniere’s disease
- TMJ problems
- Tumor in the head or neck
- A problem with the carotid artery or jugular vein
- Head trauma
Sometimes there is no obvious explanation for tinnitus.
See your doctor to have your ears examined if you suddenly observe the symptoms of tinnitus. The issue might be something treatable or it might be a symptom of a life-threatening condition like high blood pressure or heart disease. A side effect of a new medication may also be the cause.
For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.
The explanation for why tinnitus gets worse on some days is a bit of a medical mystery. And there may be more than one reason depending on the person. There are common triggers that might explain it, though.
Your tinnitus can be aggravated by loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks. If you expect to be subjected to loud noise, your best option is to use ear protection. You can enjoy the music at a live performance, for instance, without harming your ears by wearing earplugs.
You can also keep away from the source of the sound. For instance, don’t stand next to the speakers at a concert or up front at a fireworks display. With this and ear protection, the damage to your ears will be reduced.
Loud Noises at Home
Things around the house can be just as harmful as a loud concert. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for instance. Here are some other sounds from around the house that can cause injury:
- Woodworking – Power tools are loud enough to be a problem.
- Laundry – If you fold clothes while the washer is running, for example.
- Wearing headphones – It could be time to get rid of the earbuds or headphones. Their job is to increase the volume, and that might be aggravating your ears.
If there are activities you can’t or don’t want to avoid such as woodworking, wear hearing protection.
Loud noises at work have the same impact as a concert or the lawnmower. If you work near machinery or in construction it’s especially important to wear hearing protection. Talk to your employer about your ear health; they might supply the hearing protection you need. Let your ears rest during your off time.
Air Pressure Changes
When most people fly they experience ear popping. The shift in air pressure plus the noise from the plane engines can result in an increase in tinnitus. If you are traveling, bring some gum with you to help equalize the air pressure and think about ear protection.
Changes in air pressure occur everywhere not just on a plane. Taking the right medication to relieve sinus pressure is also helpful.
Medication could also be the problem. Some drugs affect the ears and are known as ototoxic. Some prevalent drugs on the list include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
Have a talk with your doctor if you experience a worsening of tinnitus after you start taking a new prescription. It might be feasible to switch to something else.
Tinnitus is an annoyance for some people, but for others, it can be disabling. To be able to determine how to control it from day to day, the first step is to find out what’s causing it.